Reynolds Highlights Economic Activity, Research Progress at Local Breakfast Briefing

By Frank Blanchard, Staff Writer; photos by Eileen Mitchell, Executive Director, Fort Detrick Alliance
Craig Reynolds explains the mission of NCI at Frederick to the Fort Detrick Alliance.

Craig Reynolds explains the mission of NCI at Frederick to the Fort Detrick Alliance. 

NCI is a valuable asset to the Frederick community as a major employer, a purchaser of goods and services, and an educator and mentor for students from elementary through post-graduate school, Craig Reynolds told about 70 people, including many community leaders, at the Fort Detrick Alliance’s quarterly breakfast briefing at Hood College.

Government and contractor salaries and procurement activity pump $259 million a year into Maryland’s economy, including $120 million in economic activity in Frederick County, said Reynolds, director of the Office of Scientific Operations. NCI government and contractor operations combined would rank as the third-largest employer in Frederick, according to the city business development office.

NCI offers a wide range of science education programs, internships, fellowships, and other hands-on science training opportunities, starting with the Elementary Outreach Program for the youngest of would-be scientists—36,000 of whom have gone through the program since 2000, Reynolds said.

The 25-year-old Werner H. Kirsten Student Intern Program has seen 75 percent of its roughly 1,000 graduates go on to careers in medicine or bioscience locally and across the country.

As an overview of NCI at Frederick—which includes the NCI-sponsored Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research—Reynolds ticked off some additional numbers:

– Eighty lots of 21 biopharmaceutical products and vaccines manufactured at the facility.

– Support for more than 650 human clinical trials sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

– More than 6 million clinical samples stored on site and available for use by cancer researchers across the country.

To bring NCI’s mission into perspective, Reynolds turned to the latest health statistics: Four out of 10 Americans will hear a cancer diagnosis at least once in their lifetimes.

“For all of you here in this room, almost half of you will hear the words, ‘you have cancer,’” he said. And the burden of the disease will continue to weigh on virtually everyone in the audience through its effects on family, friends, and coworkers.

However, there is good news.

The overall cancer death rates for both sexes declined by 1.5 percent per year from 2003 to 2012, according to the 2016 Annual Report to the Nation. The number of cancer survivors has climbed to around 15 million in the United States. This number will continue to grow as treatments improve and cancer becomes more of a chronic disease than a death sentence, Reynolds said.

Harold Modrow, president of the Fort Detrick Alliance, said attendees at the July 13 event were excited to hear about the work being accomplished at the NCI facility.

“Frederick and our community are privileged to have one of the premier world-class cancer and HIV research organizations located in our community,” Modrow said. “The Fort Detrick Alliance is dedicated to ensuring that this and the other critical work conducted by the federal agencies in and around Fort Detrick continues well into the future.”

Alliance Executive Director Eileen Mitchell said of Reynolds’ talk, “His presentation was very informative and many of those attending said they learned so much about NCI at Frederick that they didn't know before."

The Fort Detrick Alliance, with its 18-member board, connects the federal agencies in and around Fort Detrick with the community at large, building relationships between those agencies and area residents; businesses; civic, social, and educational organizations; and local and state governments. Alliance networking breakfasts are one of the many ways in which the organization brings these communities together for mutual benefit, Mitchell said.